Lemongrass, Star Anise and Ginger Miso Soup with Soba and Greens

Savory Recipes, Winter • 28 Jan 2015

I awake in the cold, impersonal air with an otherworldly chill ensconcing my exposed limbs. An invisible greyness surrounds me, and I can’t brush away the urge to tumble off the precipice into the crying void.

My husband’s alarm suddenly detonates, and we all creep out uneasily from the safe, downy covers. Each protracted breath seamlessly interlaces with the filtered early morning light. I draw brisk air into my lungs and prepare to face the day.

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I feel wintry all morning; unable to shake the bone-chilling aura that beleaguers me. Wrapped in scarves and blankets, my lips felt dry and monochromatic, my bones sore and brittle. Reaching the conclusion that I am fighting either the trappings of a cold or enigmatic cold-weather malaise, I begin to prep broth for blood-igniting miso soup.

As the pot undulates with petite bubbles, ripples crescendo in my soup pot, I know the comforting elixir would do the trick, to help subjugate at least some of my discomfort.

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I season the clean, crisp broth with herbaceous lemongrass and peppery ginger. Licorice-scented star anise imparts a faint sweetness, which feels necessary with the umami-heavy ingredients. Shiitake mushrooms and seaweed mingle harmoniously, amplifying the savoriness. Substantive aromatics transcend the addition of salty miso, which conveys creamy, salty lusciousness.

While the broth stands alone and would be lovely and healing and warming without additional ingredients, I want a hearty meal with enough fortifying energy to propel us through the day. Little nests of twirled soba cradle pudding-like silken tofu, soft and spongy, fat with hot liquid. Sturdy utilitarian greens- I use bitter turnip greens- paper-thin cilantro leaves and diligent green onions provide chlorophyll to compensate for the sunless day. Black sesame seeds dot each steamy bowl.

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Miso soup feels simultaneously light yet rich, healing yet indulgent, simple yet layered.
We sat around our table wrapped in blankets, tissues in one fist, spoons or chopsticks in the other; we gulp spoonfuls of broth, slurp noodle ribbons, leaving dappled dots of liquid all over the table. Wiping our chins as the salty soup trickles in a downward trajectory, our sleeves moistened and napkins saturated, we feel the hot broth doing its job- infiltrating our bodies with warmth and good health.

Lemongrass, Star Anise and Ginger Miso Soup with Soba and Greens

Broth:
5 cups water
1 clove star anise
2 stalks lemongrass, outside layers removed and sliced roughly into 2-inch rounds
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, and chopped into quarters
1 sheet of nori cut into 2-inch strips
1 ounce shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red miso paste
3 tablespoons white miso paste

6 ounces silken tofu, cut into cubes
2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 ounce enoki mushrooms, divided into small bunches
3 cups sturdy greens such as kale, collards or chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
Cilantro leaves to taste
2 green onions, sliced very thin
1 teaspoons black sesame seeds
4-5 ounces soba noodles

1. Add star anise, lemongrass, ginger and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over high heat for 7 minutes and add nori and 1 ounce shiitake mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for another 7-8 minutes.

2. Strain out solids with a fine mesh strainer and return broth to saucepan over medium-low heat. Add miso paste and whisk until dissolved. Keep warm over low heat.

3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add soba and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Divide noodles between bowls.

5. Before serving, add tofu cubes, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, green onions and greens to the warm broth. Return heat to medium, making sure the soup does not boil, and allow the greens to wilt and the ingredients to warm.

6. Divide broth between bowls and top with cilantro and sesame seeds.

Yield: Serves 3 as a light meal.

2 Responses

  1. Kathy Carr

    Good Morning,

    I came upon your blog through Curious on the Hudson. Cooking with children has been an easy, fun task for me as a mother and teacher. What a beautiful way to present a recipe. I only tapped into the soba noodles as I lived in Japan and fell in love with soba. Also , I was caught by the chill of winter. The story to get warm and stay healthy. Namaste

    • I’m so glad you found my blog via Curious, Kathy! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I have never been to Japan but it is at the top of my list, as much for the food and the country’s intrinsic beauty.

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